Almost every young person taking dance lessons in Monterey, CA is interested in Tango. Tango classes in Monterey are highly popular, but dancers are confused about the differences between American Tango, which is the most popular style of Tango in the United States, and International Tango. We discuss the differences here, but first a quick introduction to Tango and its evolution.
Tango was originally born in the 19th century in the streets of the Argentine city of Buenos Aires. It soon became quite a rage in the early 20th century, as people saw it as a salacious, even illicit way of passing the night. Tango was soon introduced in Europe through Paris, which was when it became really popular and renowned worldwide. Tango underwent many changes since then, it became a more gentrified version of its “dirty dancing” original version, and became a much more refined, elegant and beautiful dance form over the decades since.
This original form of Tango is popular as Argentine Tango. And while it underwent great refinement since its inception in the late 19th century, it was still too salacious for the American public. In fact, Tango was first introduced in the United States through the 1921 film, “Four Horses of Apocalypse”, starring the then Hollywood sensation, Rudolph Valentino. While movie became a rage largely because of the new dance style that was introduced, it was decided to Americanize the Argentine Tango, as the original was too intimate, even scandalous, with more body contact than Americans of that era were comfortable with.
And thus was born, American Tango. American Tango was first designed by the famous dance teacher Arthur Murray, who made Tango safe and less sexy (if that’s possible!) and incorporated other Ballroom dancing steps into it, made it less spontaneous, with more standardized dancing steps that were easier to teach than the original version. The Tango moves were simplified and dancing skills categorized into three levels of increasing difficulty – Bronze, Silver and Gold.
Equally popular among those joining dance classes in Monterey is the British version of the American Tango, called the International Tango. International Tango is pretty much similar to American Tango, save a few differences here and there. International Tango was simply a result of American Tango crossing over to London. The British decided to give the American Tango a more codified form, standardizing the steps and the movement further to make the dance easier to judge in competitions. And they named the new version of the American Tango, “International Tango”.
The differences between American and International Tango aren’t that many – except that American Tango has open holds, which allow dancers to make broken hold moves including underarm turns, while International Tango is done only in closed holds. In International Tango, dancers are not allowed to break three points of contact – right arms, left arms and the hips. This is particularly important in dance competitions as judges deduct points whenever dancers break contact.
So that really is the only big difference between American Tango and International Tango. You may learn both in our Tango classes.